Saturday, 16 January 2010

Climate change means colder weather, too


Over the last week I chatted with farmers next door, villagers down the road and commuters at the bus stop, and everyone said the same thing: “Does anyone believe in global warming now?”

Once you get your laughter under control, though, you might realise the joke is based on a mistake: that climate change will make everything slightly warmer. What we should expect instead is stranger weather – depending on where you live in the world, you might see the coldest, hottest, rainiest or driest weather ever. You might see all these things in a matter of months – just as in the last few months, Ireland saw unprecedented floods followed by bizarre snowstorms. This is, in fact, what climate change should look like.

We can never prove, of course, that those or any events are directly due to climate change, any more than we can say whether the economic downturn was the reason for an individual’s bankruptcy. Such an answer would involve comparing the individual’s fortunes with what they would have been if the economy had not plunged, and we will never know that. All we can say is that when the economy plunges, there are more bankrupcies -- but of course, there would have been a few anyway, and even in a depression a few people will be unaffected. So will it be with the climate in the years to come.


This photo is by FADA member Hermann Geissel, who took some amazing pictures of the snowbound Irish countryside.

5 comments:

lagedargent said...

Hi Brian,
Probably, you're right, but look at it this way: When everyone is saying: “Does anyone believe in global warming now?” a cap-and-trade policy for CO2-emissions will be that much harder to maintain. The support for such a scheme will simply melt away, maybe, rightfully so.
There's hardly anybody prepared to accept having to give up on present day conveniences, and paying (much) higher taxes as well, to prevent a disaster that appears to be belied by their personal experience, however premature this may prove to be.
Let's await what summer has in store for us - El NiƱo is on the prowl, it seems - and what next winter will be like, before jumping to conclusions.

Brian Kaller said...

Lagedargent,

Good point. I don't mean that this unusual winter is proof of climate change, merely that it is in line with what we should expect. I have always been uncertain about schemes like cap-and-trade, too equivocal to either support them or cheer their demise.

How is the weather in the Netherlands now?

Lunchista said...

Nice analogy (I mean about the bankruptcies)!

Moving along to cap-and-trade, I'd be much more of a fan if the licences to trade (which let's face it will be lucrative) were restricted to "ethical" finance such as the Co-Op, Triodos and the like.

Maya said...

Yeah, somebody the other day was saying something similar & I pointed out that climate change doesn't necessarily just mean hotter & he came back to me with some wacko crap about a mini ice age and a whole lot of really personal attacks. It doesn't seem to matter how much data you give to some of these folks, they just don't want to believe it...I'm really just coming to accept that if it's not too late now, it will be before all of this avoidance comes to an end.

Brian Kaller said...

Lunchista,

I'd love to see that too, but then I'd like to see governments do many things to encourage ethics in general, and I'm not holding my breath. Thanks for reading. :-)

Maya,

Maybe, but predictions seem to be revised every week, so we can't be sure how close we are to "too late," or on which side of it, or what that would look like. So if we can't be sure, we can hope.

Maybe this movement will turn out like the other movements for good things -- one day, suddenly, everyone will have always been on the side of the movement, and no one was ever against it.